What does personalized learning mean to you? Maybe thoughts of self-directed instruction in an array of subjects come to mind – that’s certainly part of it.
Personalized learning is a philosophy of educational instruction that emphasizes the learning trajectory of the individual student before that of the entire class, tailoring assessments, goals, and instructions to individual needs. Such individualized learning, buoyed by recent technological advances which allow teachers to build lesson plans crafted to fit each student’s level and goals, is often more easily practiced in schools with low student-teacher ratios and small class sizes.
The scheduling and curricular flexibility found at private schools compared to their public counterparts means that most personalized learning plans can be found in private-school education, with a few notable exceptions.
But what are the main tenets of personalized learning?
1. Each Child Moves Forward
The focus here is on the teacher and student maintaining an open dialogue. Depending on how the student is performing, the teacher and student may collaborate to adjust the instruction, the amount of homework, and the student’s learning goals. The goalposts can shift as necessary. As goals are constructed by both teacher and student together after much deliberation, the goalposts only move when necessary rather than when convenient. This allows students to challenge themselves while knowing that failure is not the end of the world.
2. Project-Based Approach
Personalized learning puts students in an innovative classroom driven towards discovery of the self and the world beyond. Projects with real-world import and field trips are important parts of the curriculum, helping students understand the true value of their learning and encouraging them to remain socially conscious. Group work often is used in personalized-learning classrooms, with the help of technology.
3. Technology as an Aid
Personalized learning programs which use classroom software allow teachers to better track the progress of individual students, assign activities that fit a student’s level, and increase student feedback. Students receive immediate feedback on many of these programs. In addition, programs like the Summit Curriculum, for schools that choose to use it, provide teachers with a personalized-learning framework on which to base their instruction, providing the right balance of curricular freedom and structure.
4. Student Autonomy / Goal-Setting
One of the most important aspects of individualized learning is the role the students play in setting their own personalized goals. Students take an active role in their own education in this way. Critically, students are encouraged to provide feedback to teachers regarding what’s working for them and what could be changed – what works for one student may not work for another. The teachers are learning each student in their class as much as they’re learning the material they teach.
This requires a higher-level mastery of the material prior to teaching a class full of students at different levels with different needs. This is true of every class at every school – only in a personalized-learning environment, this is celebrated rather than deprioritized. Classes are customized to each student’s needs, skills, interests, and strengths. Students may even practice self-evaluation to better understand where they can improve. Academic mastery, in this classroom, includes mastery of a multitude of perspectives.
5. Bringing It All Together in a Way That Prepares Students to Tackle Any Environment
There remain benchmarks each student must meet at each grade level. The core subjects are as important as they are in a “regular” classroom, and curricular balance is still necessary. Tests are still necessary, too, though in a different sense. Students, being encouraged to set their own goals, are conditioned to see tests as progress reports rather than mere numbers to be met or regurgitations of information soon to be forgotten.
At Concordia Lutheran School in Seattle, we pride ourselves in providing expert-yet-affordable instruction through our top-tier teachers and personalized learning. Our small class sizes and low student-teacher ratio allows us to put your child, no matter who your child is, first. We ensure that no child is left adrift, whether by being more advanced or less adept than their classmates in any given subject. Your child’s progress is our reward for a job well done.
Having developed such individualized learning plans since our founding in 1906 – plans which embolden students to build critical academic mastery and social skills with the aid of projects and real-world activities – we are more than within our bounds to say we’re North Seattle’s resident experts in helping children build confidence towards academic mastery within a trusting, friendly community. With an outstanding after-school care program, we’ve got your family covered from all angles.
What do you think: Is personalized learning right for your child and your family? If you think so, schedule a tour with us to learn about how a Concordia education will help your child get a running start on their life in high school, college, and beyond!